Since my dad died three years ago, my mom has been travelling by train out to Maryland to stay with us for Christmas. She loves the train, even though a plane would get her here in 2 hours, and if she wants to sit in a train for over 16 hours, then whatever.
The first year she arrived at Washington Union Station. We shlepped to a MARC train on Christmas Eve (it snowed that year), rode the MARC to Union and drug her back up to Maryland with us.
The second year she arrived at Baltimore Penn Station, so we shlepped up there and got her.
This year we said "why don't you just hop a train from Union Station and go to the Amtrak station at BWI which is 5 miles down the road from us", so that's what she did... well, sorta.
First of all, the weather sucked in the Midwest, so her train was 4 hours late arriving at her station. I kept watch on the internet for her progress, and determined that she wasn't going to get to BWI by 2:30pm, but would probably make it around 5:30pm.
At 5pm, we ventured off to get a festive Christmas Eve latte and Starbucks, then mosied over to the Amtrak station. It's a very small station, hard to miss anyone. We get there as her train rolls in. People get off, people get on, train leaves, no mother. I call our home answering machine, and there's a message from her saying she had arrived. At least that's what I think she said because even with her teeth in, she's still hard to understand. I think she says "I'm in Baltimore... BWI". Great, for some reason she's ended up at the airport, so off we go to the airport.
Ever try finding someone at an airport on Christmas Eve? Impossible. We call my sister back in Indiana and ask if she's called there, as we seem to have misplaced her. No call there. By this time I'm ranting about the fact that I've given her my cell phone number 800 zillion times, and yet she calls the house. We give up at the airport, and head back to the train station for one more look (what if she was in the bathroom when we were there), searched the bathroom, no mother.
As we head home, I check the home messages again, this time a message (slightly frantic) saying she was in Baltimore. Ok... there are only a zillion train stops in Baltimore, and mom has a tendency to call everything Baltimore. She could have been in Richmond, VA and call it Baltimore.
We go home, feed the dogs, wait for another call to pin down exactly WHERE in Baltimore she was. No call, nobody answers the station phone, nobody answers the payphone where she called from. By now I'm picturing her locked out of the train station being accosted by crack ho's. We change the answering machine to say call my sister, we're coming to get you, and off we go to Penn Station, on Christmas eve, at 7:30pm.
Drunk drivers all OVER the place, weaving around the major highways. What fun, ho, ho, ho. Of course, even with the nav system, we make a wrong turn, end up who knows where, and eventually reach Penn Station to find my mother, sitting like a lost waif eating a cookie. She proceeds to tell us about her trip... in the train station... um, hello, wanna get out of the train station?
Apparently when their train got to Union Station, they herded everyone onto another train without asking anyone where they were heading. She almost got sent to Boston (and hey, yes she's my mother, but I would have to leave her there), but some people raised a stink and they threw them out at Penn Station (merry christmas). She said she tried calling my cell phone... except she was about 5 digits off on the actual number. Who knows what phone was ringing, or where.
So, she's here. The dogs have sufficiently mauled her in welcome, and it's the start of a wonderful christmas time for us.